The Moudawana Syndrome: Gender Trouble in Contemporary Morocco

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2014


Indiana University Press


The present article examines the way Zakia Tahiri’s film Number One (2009) foregrounds a renewed understanding of gender and gender relations in contemporary Morocco, especially in the wake of the New Family Code Reform (Moudawana), which has revolutionized women’s status by increasing their power in the private as well as the public spheres. It centers not on the oft-studied subject of women and the regulation of femininity in Arab countries, but on the complex relationship between masculinity and performance, highlighting the sociocultural norms that have shaped and affected the performance of masculinity in Arabo-Muslim contexts. In particular, this study examines how Tahiri uses subversive comedy to challenge traditional views and constructions of male and female roles, to expose and dismantle the normative constructions of masculinity, and to promote the emergence of a new social frame that begs for different gender performances.